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Apple Watch update could bring sleep tracking and other missing features

Apple Watch update could bring sleep tracking and other missing features

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Apple is working on bringing some important missing features to the Apple Watch, including third-party complications and a way to locate a lost watch, according to 9to5Mac. Also in development are a number of new health features, including sleep tracking, although some of these features will likely require new hardware. It's not clear how far along in development these features are — meaning they may not be arriving at Apple's big conference next month, nor necessarily even this year — but the fact that they're in the works at all is a good sign. In the past, Apple has been slow-moving in areas like giving third parties access to widgets.

Third-party complications could make the Watch way more useful

Third-party access to complications — the little widgets that can be displayed on Apple Watch faces — could begin with Twitter. 9to5Mac reports that Apple is already testing a version of Watch OS with a Twitter complication built in. The report speculates that a small version of the complication could display unread mentions, while a larger version of the complication could show the text of a mention.

Because this Twitter complication is said to be built into Watch OS, it's unclear if third parties are really being given the ability to make complications. Instead, it could be that third-party complications will have to be made in conjunction with Apple. In the past, Apple has given Twitter special treatment on iOS, so this wouldn't be entirely out of line. Hopefully, though, Apple is in fact moving to give third-party developers access — complications are easily the most useful feature of the Watch, and third-party apps can make that even stronger.

The other Watch feature Apple is reported to be working on may address a problem that many were discussing last week: how there are no software features preventing an Apple Watch from being stolen. 9to5Mac reports that Apple is working on a feature called Find My Watch, which will allow people to remotely lock, wipe, and track their device. It's unclear exactly how this will be managed, given that the Watch needs to be connected to a paired iPhone; 9to5Mac reports that the current generation Watch may not even be capable of it. An additional feature in development might allow the Watch to tap a wearer if they've walked out of range of their phone.

Additional health features may still be coming

9to5Mac's report also clears up a bit of the confusion around the Apple Watch's missing health features. Before its debut, Apple was reported to be working on putting a wealth of health sensors and features into the Watch, including the ability to track blood oxygen saturation and blood sugar levels. In the end, all that arrived was a heart-rate sensor.

It appears now that Apple has a roadmap for health features that it wants to add and when it'll add them, so that these features will be appearing over time in new models of the Watch. Blood pressure and sleep tracking are reportedly in mind for the near future, while a glucose tracker is scheduled for further out. This is all, of course, dependent on what Apple can get to work. Using the existing heart-rate monitor, Apple is also said to be working on a feature that would allow the Watch to detect an irregular heart beat. 9to5Mac reports that this feature may never ship due to regulatory or liability issues.

In addition to Apple's work on Watch OS, 9to5Mac's report reiterates a lot of what's being said about the Apple TV: that a new model should be announced in June, with support for Siri, third-party apps, and a live TV service. The report adds that the shipping model is expected to be thinner than the current version.

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